Even bigger than mapping the human genome

Scientists have mapped out around 300,000 SNP(single-nucleotide polymorphism)s, which are differences in a single nucleotide in a position in the human genome. This is exciting work, and is already bearing fruit (the article mentions an advance in the study of age-related macular degeneration, for example). This work is even bigger than mapping the human genome (though probably useless without the map) because now we can start to understand why some people are more susceptible to diseases than others, or respond differently to drugs. In fact, if applied correctly, this research might be able to identify who would respond, for example, to particular types of blood pressure medication.


2 Responses

  1. the operative question, then, seems to be “how is this knowledge applied correctly? but help me understand how this, in conjunction with the mapping, opens up so much possibility. talk to me like i’m a 12 year old. when it comes to this stuff, i may as well be.

  2. While the human genome, in some fashion, described how we’re the same, this project describes how we are different. For example, it attempts to answer the question “Why are some people more ‘genetically predisposed’ to breast cancer than others?” Or, “Who responds to Tylenol (or calcium channel blockers, or whatever drug)?”

    One way in which this could be applied is that, since genotyping is becoming less expensive by the year, we can predict with greater accuracy who will respond the way we want to a given drug, or, perhaps even more important, who will respond with a rare but serious side effect.

    (Perhaps someone more versed in genetics can comment also. I know enough to be dangerous — I know what a microarray is and even a little bit how to analyze them, but I don’t immerse myself in the field daily.)

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